Cape Town Tourism responds to National Minimum Standard for Responsible Tourism
On Monday September 12, 2011, Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk launched the National Minimum Standard for Responsible Tourism, which highlights the role of sustainable tourism practices in creating better places for people to visit, work, invest in and live in.
The minister said that the primary objective of the Department of Tourism is to retain the economic and social advantages of tourism development and growth, while reducing the undesirable impact on the natural, historic, cultural or social environment. According to a South African Standard draft, the National Minimum Standard for Responsible Tourism serves to:
• Establish a common understanding of the minimum criteria for responsible tourism;
• Promote responsible tourism in the tourism sector, including accommodation, hospitality, travel distribution systems, as well as all organs of state, entities, organised labour and communities involved in, or interested in, the tourism sector in South Africa;
• Establish the minimum criteria for certification of the sustainability of organisations in the tourism sector.
CEO of Cape Town Tourism Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold says Cape Town Tourism welcomes the announcement of the National Minimum Standard for Responsible Tourism.
For many years, Cape Town Tourism has been a key stakeholder in the drive to raise awareness of good practice for responsible tourism in the Mother City. Working closely with the City of Cape Town and other stakeholders, Cape Town Tourism has prioritised sustainability as a guiding principle of growth in all aspects of tourism. In 2002 the Cape Town Declaration was developed as the foundation for a responsible tourism charter.
In 2009, this charter was realised with the Responsible Tourism Policy for the City of Cape Town, which seeks to guide growth that is sustainable. The year 2009 also saw Cape Town recognised as the best destination in the 2009 Responsible Tourism Awards. In line with this, many Cape Town tour operators and businesses have already embraced the principles of responsible tourism as a way of life and doing business, as opposed to making this just another niche offering.
“South Africa is a country with rich natural resources and a diverse cultural heritage. In Cape Town we recognise this daily as some of Cape Town’s busiest urban centres share space with natural attractions such as Table Mountain National Park and Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. These are Cape Town treasures, which must be effectively managed if they are to carry on inspiring locals and attracting international visitors,” she says.
However, the multifaceted history of the city has left its mark on socio-economic dynamics as poverty stalks many communities. Opportunities within the sustainable tourism landscape would assist in creating jobs and lessening hardship. Travellers are also becoming more aware of treading lightly and are looking for responsible and cultural travel experiences. The real beauty of Cape Town lies in the stories of her people, and responsible tourism is the best means of unlocking these stories and providing meaningful experiences for visitors. Tourism is ultimately about global sharing, sustainable job creation and ensuring socio-economic development for our city and our region, Du Toit-Helmbold says.
“It goes without saying that South Africa’s natural environment is one of its greatest tourism resources, and therefore the tourism industry needs to be actively involved in conserving and protecting it. Cape Town, in particular, is known around the globe as a place of unparalleled natural beauty and is well placed to offer the authenticity and diversity desired by a responsible traveller. We urge tourism organisations in Cape Town to get behind the guidelines of the minimum standards act for a brighter Cape Town future, and we hope to see responsible and sustainable initiatives coming to the fore beyond the guidelines provided by government and local tourism authorities,” she concludes.
For more information on Cape Town’s attractions and Cape Town Tourism, visit www.capetown.travel
For more information on Responsible Cape Town, visit www.responsiblecapetown.co.za
For more information on Climate Smart Cape Town, visit http://climatesmartcapetown.co.za